Sandburg’s Booker has unfinished business

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The memory of being sidelined because of an ankle injury when Sandburg lost in the Class 8A football playoffs hasn’t faded for Lemonte Booker.

“That was probably the saddest moment of my sports career,’’ the Sandburg running back said of a first-round loss in the fall to Bolingbrook. “To watch my team lose was heart breaking.’’

Booker has been healthy this spring and is a key member of Sandburg’s track team that qualified in six events for the Class 3A state meet Thursday through Saturday at Eastern Illinois in Charleston.

The Indiana State-bound Booker won the long jump (22 feet, 4.5 inches) at the Downers North Sectional and ran on the first-place 400-meter relay with Ian Hollendonner, Jim Hill and Nick Malliaras that set a school record (41.99 seconds) and ranks third among sectional times.

“It was four seniors that worked their tail off to get there,’’ Sandburg coach Joe Nemeth said.

Booker just missed qualifying for the 2012 meet in the long jump.

“Last year I missed by a half-inch,’’ he said. “I dreamed of qualifying for my senior year. But I’m not just satisfied qualifying. I have high goals. We have a lot of guys going down there.’’

Other Sandburg sectional champions were the 3,200 relay of Sean Torpy, Joe Licata, Chris Torpy and Pat McMahon (7 minutes, 53.84 seconds) and the 1,600 relay of Ian Hollendonner, Licata, Ryan Parthemore and Nick Prajka (3:22.71).

Prajka also qualified in the 800 and McMahon in the 1,600.

“Our hopes are these seniors run the best they’ve run at Sandburg, whatever it is,’’ Nemeth said. “We’d like to see guys on the second day, and that means getting a medal around your neck.’’

Sandburg’s 3,200 relay was fourth last year, but the Eagles didn’t score in the 2010 and ’11 state meets after Zach Dahleen was 1,600 runner-up in 2009.

Sandburg regained some swagger this season when it won the SouthWest Suburban Blue title “for the first time in 19 years,’’ Nemeth said, then claimed the sectional championship a week later.

“It’s been a very pleasant season,’’ Nemeth said. “The depth is led by the upperclassmen. The seniors have been leaders for a long time.’’

The 400 relay might be a Southland showcase. Thornton has the No. 2 sectional time (41.95) ahead of Sandburg, while Andrew ranks fifth (42.19) and Bloom sixth (42.21).

Thornton junior Tifonte Hunt could be a contender in the 110 hurdles (14.40).

Bloom’s Will Williams and Jonah Wiley have the seventh- and eighth-best sectional long jumps (22-9 and 22-8.5 respectively).

Providence has three individual title contenders in Chad Weaver (pole vault), Mike Monroe (high jump) and hurdler Andrew Helmin.

Weaver’s 16-0 vault, Monroe’s 6-9 high jump and Helmin’s 14.12 in the 110 hurdles all are sectional bests. Helmin ranks second in the 300 hurdles (38.32).

Lockport qualified both pole vaulters: Patrick Fisch (14-3) and Jake Voltarel (13-9). Voltarel also made it in the long jump (22-4).

St. Rita junior Treston Forbes was the Lyons Sectional champ in the 100 and 200. His 10.84 in the 100 tied for the fifth-best sectional time.

In Class 2A, Thornridge’s Yemi Ogunbameru could be a finalist in both hurdles (14.58 and 38.71).

Bremen’s 400 relay was state runner-up last season (42.28) and this year’s group has the top sectional time (42.32).

Beecher senior Grant Nykaza, the defending Class 1A 1,600 champ, qualified in both distance races.

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